A good question

Here’s my question: Do we really need right/left field umpires in the postseason?

I’m sure it’s confirmation bias or whatever, but I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve thought, “God, I’m glad we have that guy down the line.” But I can think of about 5 instances in which they’ve made blatantly terrible calls that were obvious to the naked eye (Maier, Phil Cuzzi last year, Berkman’s homer last night, etc).

What is the point?

– Ryan, comments section.

Good question. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to learn that the presence outfield umpires for the playoffs and All-Star Game are some sort of make-good for a crappy travel schedule in the umpire’s union contract with Major League Baseball or something, because they really don’t seem to serve much productive purpose out there.

I believe it was Ron Darling on last night’s broadcast who pointed out that the right-field umpire actually had a worse perspective for Berkman’s non-homer than the umps at first and home, since he had to spin later to follow the ball’s flight and so had a tougher time seeing the ball tail foul.

And truth is, if no umpire at any level ever works the right- and left-field lines until he gets to the Major League postseason or All-Star Games, no one charged with the task is going at it with much practice. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a massively different skill set than some of the ones involved in umping the corner bases, but, you know, new angle, new perspective, different thing.

I kind of like the novelty of it, in the same way I like celebratory bunting on Opening Day, but it does seem a bit pointless. Especially if they’re not going to get calls right with any frequency.

3 thoughts on “A good question

  1. The idea of 6 postseason umpires being in the contract makes sense. If there is a 6 man crew that allows 6 different guys to call balls and strikes for the entire postseason including the World Series. I would have to think that being behind the plate for the WS is the highest possible achievement for an Umpire.

  2. This doesn’t get officially acknowledged, but the extra umpires mean that only the crew chief works the plate twice in a 7 game series. 4 umpires and a 4 man rotation would mean that pitchers throw to the same umps. If there’s a problem in an early game, they don’t want it to affect later games.

  3. At the end of the day I guess it cant hurt to have them there. I mean yes there were some awful calls like Phil Cuzzi, but that was just a bad call, he had a brain fart, and that could have happned had he only been one of 4 umpires instead of being donw the line.

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